Written by John Cassibry, 2023 Spring Leadership Discovery participant
On March 8, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg spoke to the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Discovery class about his public service career and his efforts to help the Charleston community. The session provided an insight into Mayor Tecklenburg’s leadership style, his commitment to community welfare, and the various initiatives his office has taken to improve Charleston.
Mayor Tecklenburg sees his job as an opportunity to help others. He spoke about his love for Charleston and the desire to make it a better place for all its residents. He outlined the importance of building strong communities that are safe, sustainable, and prosperous.
One of the highlights of the speech was the discussion of the BRIDGE Academy (Building Resilient Innovative Data-Driven Government Employees). The program is designed to change the culture of city government and build a strong team by focusing on resilience, innovation, data, and training. Mayor Tecklenburg talked about how the program had helped city employees develop new skills and improve their work. He discussed how he is doing his best to invest in city employees, citing that his team more than doubled the minimum wage for a city employee.
An interesting topic he tackled was how he managed conflict and the friction created between city council members who have run against him in the past and will continue to run against him in the upcoming cycle. The Mayor said that there will always be disagreements and conflicts between community members and leaders, but the ultimate goal of making Charleston a better community keeps city leaders on track. In the same manner that he discussed conflict, he discussed opportunity.
Mayor Tecklenburg also discussed his opportunity to work with other mayors of major cities around the United States. By sharing knowledge and experiences, he and other city leaders are able to tackle shared challenges and find innovative solutions to common problems. The collaboration also helps cities learn from each other and find new ways to improve.
Charleston’s strength in GIS (geographic information systems) was another topic that Mayor Tecklenburg discussed. GIS is a technology that has led to lifestyle changes in the community by providing residents with better access to information about their surroundings. Mayor Tecklenburg pointed out that GIS had been instrumental in improving transportation, emergency services, and even tourism. He even gave an example, somewhat humorously, of the horse carriages in Charleston, and how the city is using GIS to track horse poop in the streets and clean it up in an efficient manner.
One of the key takeaways from Mayor Tecklenburg’s speech was the importance of helping those in need. “At the end of the day, a community leader is judged by what they do to help those in need,” he said. The statement reflected his philosophy of leadership and his commitment to community service.
Mayor Tecklenburg also spoke about balancing his head and his heart when making decisions. He recognized that some decisions may not be good business decisions, but they are the right thing to help those in need in the community. This approach has helped him make tough choices that prioritize community welfare over other considerations.
During the Q&A session following his speech, Mayor Tecklenburg fielded questions from the Leadership Discovery class surrounding infrastructure and housing costs. He spoke about the importance of building affordable housing and finding innovative ways to fund infrastructure projects. He also highlighted the role of public-private partnerships in addressing community challenges.
Mayor Tecklenburg ended his speech and Q&A session by quoting a bible verse from Romans Chapter 12, encouraging individuals to be kind, generous, and loving towards one another. The quote reflected his belief in the power of community and the need to work together to build a better future.
Mayor Tecklenburg’s visit with the Leadership Discovery class was a testament to his leadership style and commitment to community welfare. His passion for Charleston and his desire to make it a better place for all its residents were evident throughout the session. His emphasis on helping those in need and his willingness to make tough decisions reflected his commitment to building a better community for years to come. The speech provided an insightful look into Mayor Tecklenburg’s leadership style and the various initiatives his office has taken to improve Charleston.
To end the session, Mayor Tecklenburg turned toward my peers in the Leadership Discovery class, echoing a phrase he tells kids and young adults to motivate them for public service, “you could be Mayor too, one day!”
On behalf of my colleagues in the Leadership Discovery class, I would like to thank Mayor Tecklenburg for his time and investment in our program, and in the community as a whole. It was a tremendous opportunity for our class to learn from his experiences and leadership style and will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on how the individuals in our class lead others in the future.